Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), a longtime hawk on food safety issues, once again blasted Republicans for seeking cuts to federal food safety programs, this time singling out Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) whose own district is currently dealing with an E. coli outbreak.
Tyson Fresh Meats recalled more than 131,000 pounds of ground beef Tuesday, an action that, DeLauro says, was taken in response to a family in Butler County, Ohio who fell ill likely from eating ground beef contaminated with E. coli O157:H7.
WCPO, an ABC affiliate in Cincinnati, reported that four children became ill, including a 9-year-old who was hospitalized for about 10 days.
“This latest recall should serve as a wake-up call for Speaker Boehner, and all Republicans, that food safety is an issue that affects all Americans, and we must take action,” said DeLauro, in a statement issued Tuesday. “The safety of American consumers should be a priority, and I urge my Republican colleagues to recognize the seriousness of the issue and ensure that the USDA and FDA have the support they need to protect our food supply. It is literally a matter of life and death.”
DeLauro pointed to the Fiscal Year 2012 appropriations bill the House passed in June that would cut food safety funding at both USDA and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, by 3.4 percent and 10 percent, respectively.
The proposed cut to FDA’s budget has come under intense criticism as the agency is working to meet the new responsibilities laid out in the Food Safety Modernization Act President Obama signed into law in January. The Congressional Budget Office estimated implementing FSMA would cost $1.4 billion over five years.
In a news release, USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service said it became aware of the outbreak in Ohio on Monday when it was notified by the Ohio Department of Health of E. coli O157:H7 illnesses in Butler County with onset dates from Sept. 8 through Sept. 11.
According to USDA, the recalled meat was distributed to 16 states across the country. A complete list of recalled products can be found here.